Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grocery Store Bento Box

Since packing my own homemade bento boxes I've been on the "look out" for boxed lunches at various supermarkets in the local area. I'm not referring to markets in Seattle's International District or Georgetown's Maruta Shoten. It's the national chain store that I'm curious about. Will they ever start selling salmon shioyaki and rice with a juicy umeboshi in the middle?

In the very diverse Pacific Northwest, most of our local grocers have been stocking sushi packs for years, and their deli shops have always sold boxed meals to go. Those boxed meals almost always contain American fare, fried chicken or meatloaf with mashed potatoes; a tasty meal but do they count as a bento box? I am not accusing, I'm just asking. My homemade boxes don't always contain traditional Japanese foods either, so no judgment from me and I cannot shake my finger or my chopsticks at them either.

The other day, I bought a grilled tofu bento box from Whole Foods at their downtown Seattle market. It contained the tofu, container of sauce, white rice, steamed red bell peppers and I think bok choy. The other varieties (that I could see) were the same except with chicken or beef in place of the tofu.
A little off topic, but since I'm talking about it, I give you my review.

The tofu was very tasty and it had nice, decorative grill marks. I ate it plain without the accompanying sticky dark sauce (I am guessing teriyaki) that was supposed to be use as a dip.

There was a bit of the same sauce spread across the white rice too which I wish they had not. I like plain white rice. The before mentioned bell pepper and mystery green veggie were hopelessly unseasoned--maybe that's what the sauce was for? I'm not bashing this box, the tofu was excellent, the rest was not and on my next visit, I'll stick to the other yummy foods Whole Foods has to offer.
Back on topic.

Do your neighborhood grocers sell packed bento boxes or have a deli shop that sells packed ready to eat lunches? Do you consider the prepacked deli lunches, bento boxes?
Do you have an Japanese or Asian grocer in your area that does sell traditional bento boxes?
Let's discuss.